Are Things Improving for Sears Holding Corporation?

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In the third quarter of 2009, Sears Holding Corporation narrowed its losses from $146 million in the previous quarter to $127 million. Despite this, shares of Sears’ stock have almost doubled during 2009. QUESTIONS: The article mentioned that because of inventory management, the company’s gross margin widened by 0.4 percentage points to 27.2%. What are… Read more »

New Rules for Gift Cards

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New rules were announced on November 16, 2009, regarding stricter rules to govern fees and expiration dates for gift cards, gift certificates, and general use pre-paid cards. While the rules have not be enacted and are open for comment for the next month, proposals include the prohibition of dormancy fees for a year and the… Read more »

Searching for Free Cash Flow

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The South Africa-based company, Harmony Gold, is having problems securing ongoing funding after using up more than $1 billion U.S. Its latest quarterly report shows that the company is grappling to produce free cash flow. QUESTIONS: What is free cash flow and why is this a worry for the company? With respect to free cash… Read more »

Timeshare Worries in a Recession

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Marriott International, the well-known hotelier, saw operating losses in its third quarter of 2009, as a result of its venture to move into financing time-shares during a slowing real estate market. In addition, the sluggish economy has not helped its primary business segment that caters to cash-based lodging for business and leisure travelers. As a… Read more »

Debt Exchange

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In an 11th-hour effort to avoid filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, commercial lender CIT Group Inc. offered its bondholders a debt exchange. The exchange offer expired on October 29, 2009. According to this exchange plan, CIT bondholders of older notes would receive between $700 and $900 in new debt plus between 0.41 and 3.26 of… Read more »